Lebayle must have had a vulnerable character. He hesitated between traditional academic painting and working in stained glass.
Homer, author of the Iliad and of the Odyssey, is the starting point (at an incredibly high level) of Western literature. This mysterious painting shows him as a blind bard with the naked genius of poetry, set against a beautiful Greek sundown.
About Charles Lebayle
French painter and stained-glass artist
Paris 1856 – 1898 Paris
Charles had at the age of 14 started attending evening classes with Alexandre Cabanel, the best representative of France’s official academic art of painting, l’Art Pompier. Lebayle’s interest in painting was cut short at his father’s death: he had to run his father’s window dressing and decorating company, a task that proved too difficult at his young age; the company went bankrupt.
A few years later, in 1877, at the age of 21, he was able to exhibit a first time at the Paris Salon, this was the official art exhibition of the Academy of Fine Arts. Lebayle showed at his first Salon works in stained glass. Two years later he started studying oil painting under another favourite of Napoleon III, Adolphe Yvon.
In the following years he continued working as a stained glass artist at the Cathedral of Autun in Burgundy and the Town Hall of Vannes in Brittany.
In 1886 Lebayle won the First Price in the prestigious Prix de Rome with his conventional representation of the frightened Claudius being proclaimed Roman Emperor by soldiers of the Praetorian Guard. It is an interesting example of l’Art Pompier at a time when Impressionism had already had its best years. Do not forget that Edouard Manet painted his Luncheon on the grass already in 1863 and Claude Monet his Impression, Sunrise in 1872. Actually 1886 was the very year when Georges Seurat exhibited his revolutionary Pointillist landscape, A Sunday Afternoon at La Grande Jatte.
As a winner of the Prix de Rome Lebayle was able to stay and work for two years in Rome at the fabulous Villa Medicis. At a winner’s return from Rome the French government would buy some of the paintings painted there. At our painter’s great disappointment none of his paintings were purchased. A bit later he lost both his sister and his mother.
Lebayle started making designs for another stained-glass artist, Lucien Bégule, then tried to start his own company of stained glass. But completely disappointed he committed suicide in 1898, aged 42.
Homer (Homeros) is the legendary ancient Greek author of the Iliad and of the Odyssey, the starting points of Western literature. Both epic poems are set against the background of the Trojan War, which was fought during the Mycenaean period, that is during the Late Bronze Age.
There is absolutely nothing known about Homer. But that did not hinder an important number of author’s of Classical Antiquity to write about his life. Homer was generally described as a blind bard from Ionia, that is the Mediterranean coastal region of present-day Turkey around Izmir. It is generally thought that he lived in the late 8th or in the 7th century BC.
About our painting
Lebayle has given here a very interesting interpretation of the blind poet Homer, set within the realistic academic tradition, but with a touch of mysterious poetry.
This painting surfaced in Italy onto the art market, in an auction in Genoa in 2007. It is tempting to see it as having been painted by Lebayle during the two years that he stayed in Rome, between 1886 and 1888.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a mysterious representation of the first Western author in history, painted in the most delicate, fragile colours.